This week I spoke to outdoor writer Emily Woodhouse, the mind behind Intrepid Magazine; a UK based Female-first Adventure and Outdoors Print Magazine.
The magazine includes; walking, running, cycling, camping, MTB, sailing, rowing, snowboarding, surfing, mountaineering, climbing, exploration, adventures big and small...
"...anything that involves the chance of getting cold, wet and muddy!"
To me this looks like a great idea to give more prominence to women in adventure and inspire new generations to enjoy and to achieve. But, in the last coupe of days, I have also read some differing opinions on social media (from both men and women) so I thought it only fair to ask some questions...
AM: Why a magazine? Isn’t the internet showing itself to be a much better, faster and more effective method of educating the world, informing and helping women in all areas?
EW: The problem with the internet is exactly that. You can have as much information as you like, quicker than ever imaginable before. There is an enormous amount of content out there and everyone’s vying for your attention. I work in marketing and I have seen the constant stream of articles being churned out for the sole purpose of search engine rankings and click through rates. It’s not about the content, it’s about the metrics and that’s made the content somewhat shallow. (We’ve all read it, 8 Things You Need To Know About….).
Because all this information is so readily available we consume it thoughtlessly, we don’t attach any value to it. I wanted to create something different, something physical that people can pick up and give to each other – because somehow that has more meaning than a web page. It’s harder for the world to ignore.
I’m sure SEO writing, Amazon affiliate reviews and listicles have their place but I wanted to create something full of reliable, quality content that you can’t find anywhere else. There’s also something exciting about waiting for a magazine to drop through your door.
AM: Why would a woman who reads a mainstream outdoor magazine switch to Intrepid?
EW: First off, I’m not asking people to switch. I think there’s a gap in the metaphorical magazine rack – many of my readers won’t already buy a magazine. Outdoors magazines are becoming more gender equal but there definitely is some work to be done. Many of them probably don’t realise they’re doing it, it’s so ingrained into society. If I had to give an example of people who’d move to Intrepid they’d be…
- Someone who’s fed up of seeing the kit reviews for men and a small note that a similar product exists for women.
- Someone who is fed up of seeing perfect women plastered across the media, while she comes home muddy, drenched and covered in midge bites.
- Someone who wants to take a stand against the stereotype that women need to have things made “girly” for them to be go outside. Or fashionable.
And, I don’t know, but I feel like a lot for climbing and walking magazines lack the human element. Intrepid is driven by strong stories.
"I’d like to create a positive driving force of counter example"
AM: Do you think you are trying to be everything to everyone by including so many outdoor activities?
EW: I can see why you might say that. I’m calling it “adventure outdoors sport” because I don’t know how else to describe the readership. I guess it’s for people like me.
If you’re a serious cyclist, for example, you’d probably buy a cycling only magazine. But if you’re a dabbler like me you do a bit of cycling, a lot of walking, a bit of mountaineering, wild camping, trying to get into trail running; where do you go? The magazine is for people who like to try new things. They like to be inspired by new ideas and love a good, adventurous story. They wouldn’t look at an article on MTB as irrelevant and annoying, they’d look at it as an invitation to have a go one day. I guess what links them all together is a sense of adventure, enjoying a challenge and being outside – or, inelegantly, getting sweaty and dirty, I guess!
I’ve split the magazine up into roughly four sections: Inspire, Educate, Pathways and Community.
AM: How would you describe your mission?
EW: My mission is for women to be taken seriously in outdoors and active. What does that look like? I guess it’s when I can walk into a gear shop and not see the gear on the men’s side and the casual outdoor fashion on the women’s side. Or find a women’s waterproof without hot pink zips. There’s definitely headway being made in breaking the stereotypes, but I think people are focussing too much on the disparities and the statistics (what percentage fewer girls do sport compared to boys etc). I’d like to create a positive driving force of counter example. Hopefully then instead of seeing the message “it’s really difficult, not many women/girls do it”, the message will become “look how many of us are doing it, and it’s easy look, let us help you”.
"It would be really lovely to see some female ‘experts’ every once in a while"
AM: Are mainstream outdoor print magazines letting women down, misrepresenting them or indeed not representing?
EW: They do feature women, but they’re skewed. There are far more men than women across the board. Now maybe that’s because more men are into the outdoors than women, but I’d like to help bring a bit more balance. Hopefully we can also help the mainstream magazines understand what it is women in the outdoors actually want to read about!
A lot of the articles I’ve seen also seem to be “girl goes and does thing for the first time – if even I can do it, you can do it too”. Now that’s great to encourage people to have a go and I’m not against that. But it would be really lovely to see some female ‘experts’ every once in a while. Women who are at the top of their game.
AM: What do you need to get this project off the ground?
EW: I need support. For this to make a real impact, we need as many people on board as we can. I’ve had some amazing support from contributors, to networking secret agents at Kendal Mountain Festival and so many people saying this is exactly what we need. But ultimately, the best support you could give is to sign up and read the magazine. I’m having the situation with advertisers at the moment where they think it’s a great idea but aren’t prepared to pay for adverts when I have 30 not 30 thousand readers. On a personal level, that means I’m going to make a slightly huge loss on the first issue – mostly because I’m determined to pay the contributors, another part of taking women seriously. I’m going to make it regardless, because I believe in this idea and think it needs to be done, but it would be amazing to have the financial security too.
I see Intrepid as something to rally behind. By buying an issue you’re saying to brands and media and stereotypes: look, this is what we want. This is what we’re really like. And slowly but surely, we’ll change their minds for the better.